GMAT Verbal : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Whenever it rains across an already flooded landscape the ecological devastation can be quite severe.

Possible Answers:

The ecological devastation can be quite severe whenever it rains across an already flooded landscape.

Whenever it rains across an already flooded landscape the ecological devastation can be quite severe.

Whenever it begins to rain across an already flooded landscape the ecological devastation can be quite severe.

The ecological devastation can be quite severe; whenever it rains across an already flooded landscape.

Whenever it rains, across an already flooded landscape, the ecological devastation can be quite severe.

Correct answer:

The ecological devastation can be quite severe whenever it rains across an already flooded landscape.

Explanation:

The sentence as it is written constitutes a fragment, particularly thanks to the use of the subordinating conjunction "whenever" being used at the front of the sentence. The sentence can be made correct either by clearly differentiating the two phrases by using a comma or reversing the order of the phrases. The correct answer, which switches around the two phrases, is "The ecological devastation can be quite severe whenever it rains across an already flooded landscape."

Example Question #2 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Although we examine the Augustinian corpus carefully, we see that the "Last of the Romans" had a critical view of the Roman Empire, but not one without qualifications.

Possible Answers:

If we examine the Augustinian corpus carefully,

Whereas we examine the Augustinian corpus carefully,

Since we examine the Augustinian corpus carefully,

Wherever we examine the Augustinian corpus carefully,

Although we examine the Augustinian corpus carefully,

Correct answer:

If we examine the Augustinian corpus carefully,

Explanation:

The structure of the sentence suggests a need for a conditional subordinating conjunction—one indicating an if-then relationship between the dependent and independent clauses.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Many of Augustine's writings evince the growing influence of Punic identity, however, his many surviving letters showcase this influence most prominently.

Possible Answers:

Punic identity, however his many surviving letters showcase

Punic identity; however, his many surviving letters showcase

Punic identity; nevertheless, his many surviving letters showcase

Punic identity, however, his many surviving letters showcase

Punic identity, and his many surviving letters showcase

Correct answer:

Punic identity; however, his many surviving letters showcase

Explanation:

"However" in this instance indicates a case worthy of special consideration among many other cases, rather than a strict contrast indicated by "nevertheless," or similarity indicated by "and." Furthermore, the two independent clauses should be joined by a semicolon before the conjunction, rather than a comma or no punctuation.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Wherever he writes about his native Africa Augustine does so in the context of the Roman Empire it was a part of during his lifetime.

Possible Answers:

However he writes about his native Africa, Augustine does so

Wherever he writes about his native Africa Augustine does so

Whenever he writes about his native Africa Augustine does so

Should he write about his native Africa, Augustine does so

Wherever he writes about his native Africa, Augustine does so

Correct answer:

Wherever he writes about his native Africa, Augustine does so

Explanation:

Dependent clauses introduced by a subordinating conjunction are followed by a comma before the independent clause. Furthermore, because this passage discusses its subject writing, rather than speaking, a subordinating conjunction referring to locations in a body of work ("wherever") rather than moments in time ("whenever") is more contextually appropriate.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

While I was busy working on the grant proposal; Kevin was taking care of the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Possible Answers:

While I was busy working on the grant proposal,

While I was busy working on the grant proposal.

While I was busily working on the grant proposal;

While I was busy working on the grant proposal:

While I was busy working on the grant proposal

Correct answer:

While I was busy working on the grant proposal,

Explanation:

"While I was busy working on the grant proposal" is a subordinate clause, so the sentence requires the second clause—an independent clause—in order to be a complete grammatical sentence. Because "While I was busy working on the grant proposal" is a dependent clause, it  should thus be followed with a comma. Semicolons and periods can only be used to punctuate independent clauses. The correct version of the sentence reads, "While I was busy working on the grant proposal, Kevin was taking care of the day-to-day operations of the organization."

Example Question #6 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

A small army of secretaries accompanied Aquinas where he went throughout his many travels in every part of Europe.

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Possible Answers:

A small army of secretaries accompanied Aquinas wherever he went throughout his many travels in every part of Europe.

A small army of secretaries accompanied Aquinas wherever he went, throughout his many travels in every part of Europe.

A small army of secretaries accompanied Aquinas wherever he went through his many travels in every part of Europe.

A small army of secretaries accompanied Aquinas where he went throughout his many travels in every part of Europe.

A small army of secretaries accompanied Aquinas where he went, throughout his many travels in every part of Europe.

Correct answer:

A small army of secretaries accompanied Aquinas wherever he went throughout his many travels in every part of Europe.

Explanation:

"Wherever," not "where," is the appropriate subordinating conjunction in this instance, as "where" implies a singular and somewhat specific place; however, the passage implies a large area or a multitude of places. As the subordinate clause does not come at the beginning of the sentence, it does not need to be separated from the main clause by a comma.

Example Question #11 : Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Because the giant squid is an elusive creature rarely seen by humans, scientists are beginning to gain a better understanding of the creature by studying it using remote cameras. 

Possible Answers:

Since

Because

As

Considering

Although 

Correct answer:

Although 

Explanation:

The sentence is trying to explain that in spite of the giant squid's elusiveness, scientists are finding new ways of studying it. The sentence therefore is trying to contrast two ideas, as opposed to showing causation with the word "because." The only answer choice that uses a contrasting conjunction is "Although," so it is the correct answer.

Example Question #7 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Because my father was afraid of fish, so he would never take us to the aquarium.

Possible Answers:

Although my father was afraid of fish, he would never take us to the aquarium.

Because my father was afraid of fish the aquarium he would never take us to.

He would never take us to the aquarium because my father was afraid of fish.

Because my father was afraid of fish, he would never take us to the aquarium.

Because my father was afraid of fish, so he would never take us to the aquarium.

Correct answer:

Because my father was afraid of fish, he would never take us to the aquarium.

Explanation:

Subordination problems happen when there are two subordinate clauses and no main clause. The "because" and "so" in the original sentence clash with each other. We only need one. That way, the clause from which a subordinating conjunction is omitted becomes an independent clause, and we need at least one independent clause in the sentence for it to be complete.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Prisons are a relatively recent phenomenon in world history, because exorbitant costs.

Possible Answers:

because they have exorbitant costs.

because exorbitant costs.

exorbitant costs.

because exorbitant cost.

because exorbitant costs of prisons.

Correct answer:

because they have exorbitant costs.

Explanation:

The underlined phrase, a separate clause further explaining the first half of the sentence, does not work as a complet sentence. In order to appropriately fit after "because," the phrase needs to be turned into a complete thought. "Because they had exorbitant costs" is the best choice among the answers.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Subordinating Conjunction Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

Whether the Donatists were active while Augustine was bishop, their roots were in controversies and long-simmering resentments from the time of his childhood.

Possible Answers:

While the Donatists were active while Augustine was bishop their roots 

Whether the Donatists were active while Augustine was bishop, their roots 

Whether the Donatists were active whether or not Augustine was bishop their roots 

While the Donatists were active while Augustine was bishop, their roots

While the Donatists were active whether or not Augustine was bishop, their roots 

Correct answer:

While the Donatists were active while Augustine was bishop, their roots

Explanation:

As the context implies, "while" is the appropriate subordinating conjunction to use in both places; however, it is worth noting that, in the credited response, it is used in two different senses—first to indicate a sort of concession or piece of important information that will find a contrast later, and later in the sentence to indicate a time when something was happening. Finally, the subordinate clause that begins the sentence should be separated from the main clause by a comma.

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